Milan Fashion Week has just started and with it the usual criticisms about well-established Italian designers and brands not allowing young people to emerge and come up with more experimental and cutting-edge ideas as it happens in London. Yet there is a brand based in Italy that started less than ten months ago and that is doing quite well, 5preview. You might have seen their T-shirts on the Internet or in the streets of your own town: some have prints of an inverted Chanel logo or of a mysterious Mickey Mouse hiding his face under a balaclava, others feature upside down prints of famous monuments such as the Eiffel Tower or the Coliseum. The idea behind the T-shirts - all tailored made and printed in Italy - is to catch the attention of the viewer and create a disturbing visual effect.
The brand’s founders, Emeli and Diego, prefer to remain anonymous and, for this reason, to advertise their T-shirts they take pictures of themselves wearing balaclavas. None of them ever thought they would have tried their hand at fashion one day: Emeli wanted to become a librarian, while Diego would have like to work in a gas-station. But after getting great feedback about their T-shirts - and even being stopped in London’s Brick Lane on a Sunday afternoon by 5 people all asking Emeli where she had got her shirt - the two friends thought that maybe they should have gone for it.
Emeli recently explained me that the brand is not just about fashion, but it’s more like a conceptual venture. In a way, 5preview might stimulate the Italian fashion scene and even help to radically change it. Emeli is from Sweden, a country that has successfully exported its minimalism, and she confessed me she can’t often understand the excesses of Italian fashion. She loves simplicity and loves Luella’s collections as they always manage to make her happy; Diego is even more minimalist than her and likes stuff à la Raf Simons.
Last week I asked Emeli if she thought it was easy for young designers from Italy to emerge in such an established fashion scene. “I don't even know if they try,” she replied, “there are a lot of fashion schools but I think people escape from Italy after they finish their courses or go and work for Italian brands. For us it was really surprisingly easy to emerge, maybe because of the lack of competition.”
T-shirts by 5preview are available in shops all over Italy, from KokonToZai in London (and soon in Paris), The Hunter in Berlin, Ilil in Tokyo, Violent Green in Brisbane and Badeanstalten in Copenhagen. They will soon arrive at Weekday in Stockholm, but can also be ordered directly from Emeli and Diego, by sending them an e-mail with your order.
The design duo has just finished working on their second collection that will also include bags, tank tops, college sweaters and a huge hoodie, but to know more about it you can check out 5preview’s blog or read my interview with Emeli on the Dazed Digital website.